In traditional harmony the art of modulation lies in the musicians ability to gradually transition from one tonality into another. We look for common notes that change the context of the new tonality. I was always fascinated by this pursuit of seemlessly masking abrupt transitions. The strategy used in traditional harmony is one of finding a way in which a note has different shades of meaning.
I imagined the idea of modulation could be applied outside of the harmonic context in which the hierarchies between pitches are not more important than the balance between timbre and rhythm. I decided therefore to compose a small cycle of pieces for solo doublebass, in order to elaborate a process that simply could evolve from the modulation concept.Modulation became for me the attempt to explore the maximum amount of points connecting two musical worlds, even the most contrasting. The attention is not on the arrival but on the journey itself, of finding continuity and effacing harsh edges.
In modulation I (Caleidoscopio) I’ve decided to make 5 parameters completely independent. Each of these vary independently their values, and the simultaneity of these variations generates soundscapes in constant change, in constant modulation. I would say that, if every parameter modulates, the sounding result is a hyper-modulation. The piece works like a caleidoscope, in which the different segments of the pipe can turn: each segment adds his filters to the global vision of a single light. Therefore the simple variation of a single parameter, generates complex situations in combination with the others.
Modulation II (Lyra) is a study on rhythm: through an extreme zoom-in, I explore the modulation between a complex reiterated sound and a dry sound, a grain, which, when looked closer, appear as a cluster of events. As the texture appear like grains, silences occur, like the spaces that separate the matter, disrupting time and our ways of seeing reality. Lyra is the mighty instrument invented by Hermes and then given to Apollo. This is how I imagine, like a playful exploration, the first notes played on this mighty instrument.
Modulation III (Cauda) is the natural consequence of the two previous compositions: a two parts counterpoint modulates via moto obliquo in an ascending sequence. The resonance of the sympathetic strings modulates into the resonance of the normal strings, in rapid but minimal sequences, generating each time new harmonies. Together with the two previous pieces, Cauda has the function of a recapitulation, but with the fundamental difference of its verticality. The triads in tremolo recall both the pitches of Modulation I and some rhythmical aspects of Modulation II, but segmented and recomposed.
composed with the support of
download here the score: